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New Release Spotlight: Best Picture Books March 2022

The picture book list for March 2022 is the shortest of my three “Best of” lists for March 2022. I also have Best YA Books March 2022 and Best Middle Grade Books March 2022 if you prefer those lists.

Several of this week’s picture books relate to animals, nature, and conservation. Can you tell Earth Day is only a few weeks away?

Remember that this list reflects only titles from March 8-March 31. I previously wrote a separate Spotlight for March 1st titles.

My top picks:

  • Solitary Animals by Joshua David Stein
  • The Tunnel by Sarah Howden
  • Hello, Puddle! by Anita Sanchez

This week’s Spotlight titles are #2393-#2401 on The Ginormous book list.

*Solitary Animals: Introverts of the Wild by Joshua David Stein (Author) and Dominique Ramsey (Illustrator)

This lyrical, nonfiction text honors animals who live in solitude, in contrast to others who live in groups.

Against a backdrop of the specific names of various animal tribes (a parade of elephants, a tower of giraffes, a dazzle of zebras), Stein shines a spotlight on those animals who go through life on their own. With nature at his back, Stein invites readers to draw strength and comfort from the behaviors of fellow animals.

Horn Book and Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 2
  • Themes: introverts, solitude, animals, zoology, animal group names, terms of venery, animal collective nouns, nature
  • Protagonist description: various animals from different biomes

The Tunnel by Sarah Howden (Author) and Erika Rodriguez Medina (Illustrator)

After something bad happens, a boy feels sad and gray. Mom and Aunt Cheryl try to talk about it, but he feels like running away. So he picks up a shovel and starts digging a tunnel from his room, deep down and into the backyard. Out there, far from the lights of the house, it’s dark enough that he could disappear. But the quiet distance also gives him the space he needs to see his family’s love and start returning home.

As he heads back, the journey upward is different. He notices familiar details and tunes into his senses. The tunnel isn’t so scary this time. The boy emerges into his room just as Mom peeks in. When she notices a twig in his hair, he is ready to talk about the tunnel and finds warmth in her gentle acknowledgment: “You came back.”

Quiet, emotionally resonant text is paired with grayscale drawings accented with red in this thoughtfully layered exploration of coping with tough emotions, and taking time and space to heal.

BCCB starred. The Booklist review states that the instigating event for the boy’s sadness isn’t stated, but suggests that possibly the boy’s father left or has recently died.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: Grades 1-3
  • Themes: emotions, sadness, quiet, emotional reflection, digging, tunnels, grief, dealing with emotional pain, mental health
  • Protagonist description: young boy, white with dark hair

Mushroom Rain by Laura K. Zimmermann

Debut author! What can smell like bubble gum, glow neon green at night, be poisonous and yet still eaten by humans, and even help create rain? The answer is mushrooms!

From their hidden networks underground to the fruiting body above, mushrooms can do incredible things. But don’t call them plants–mushrooms are fungi. They’re more closely related to animals like you! Through lyrical text and colorful, detailed artwork, the wonderful, mysterious, and sometimes bizarre world of mushrooms is explored. Back matter includes a glossary, additional mushroom facts, and a science activity.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book, nonfiction
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: mushrooms, fungi, science, foraging, mushroom reproduction, rain, organisms, biology

All from a Walnut by Ammi-Joan Paquette (Author) and Felicita Sala (Illustrator)

When Emilia finds a walnut one morning, Grandpa tells her the story behind it: of his journey across the ocean to a new home, with only one small bag and a nut in his pocket.

“I planted my little tree in good brown soil, so it would grow strong here forever.”
“In this house? In this yard?”
“Shall we go see?”

Step by step, Grandpa teaches Emilia how to cultivate her own seed. But as her little nut grows, Grandpa begins to slow down–until one sad day, Emilia has to say goodbye. Emilia’s sapling looks as droopy as she feels…but she knows just what to do.

From acclaimed author and illustrator Ammi-Joan Paquette and Felicita Sala, this tender story is a poignant reminder that the best things grow with time–and that even when they are no longer here, the ones we love are always a part of us.

Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 5
  • Themes: grandparents, immigration, walnuts, trees, planting trees, aging, grief
  • Protagonist description: girl and her grandpa, both brown-skinned, grandpa has white hair and mustache

Chester van Chime Who Forgot How to Rhyme by Avery Monsen (Author) and Abby Hanlon (Illustrator)

There once was a youngster named Chester van Chime
Who woke up one day and forgot how to rhyme.
Chester loved rhyming, in poem or song.
It always felt right, but today it felt…not right. VERY not right.

Chester van Chime is usually the BEST at rhyming. He can normally tell you all about cats wearing hats and snails delivering mail, but today, something has changed. Today there’s no dog on a log. No duck in a truck. Just a Pomeranian on a sideways tree and a waterfowl in a full-size pickup. What’s a kid to do?!

Filled with irresistible wordplay and whimsically silly illustrations, bestselling creators Avery Monsen and Abby Hanlon’s read aloud tells the story of a boy who learns not to be stressed if he’s not at his…tippy-top peak performance.

  • Genre(s): picture book, humor
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: rhyming, wordplay, school, community
  • Protagonist description: boy, red hair, freckles, white

Forest Fighter: The Story of Chico Mendes by Anita Ganeri (Author) and Margaux Carpentier (Illustrator)

Chico Mendes lived in the depths of the Amazon rainforest where trees grew tall and strong and wildlife roamed freely. From the age of 8, Chico worked with his father collecting sap from trees that could be sold to make rubber.

Rubber tappers were very poor and the rainforest was increasingly being destroyed by burning and logging, threatening their livelihoods.

Chico knew he had to take a stand. He became a spokesperson for the community, fighting hard to preserve the Amazon rainforest, and speaking up for the rights of other rubber tappers. He won several international awards for his campaigns, but the loggers still wouldn’t stop. At the age of 44, Chico was murdered by one of the loggers.

SLJ starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book biography, picture book for older readers
  • Recommended for: Grades 2-7
  • Themes: Amazon rainforest, rubber, poverty, conservation, community, sustainability, murder, Brazil, protests, exploitation, deforestation, workers unions, labor rights, environment
  • Protagonist description: male, Brazilian, from childhood to adulthood

Hello, Puddle! by Anita Sanchez (Author) and Luisa Uribe (Illustrator)

A normal everyday puddle may not seem very special. But for a mother turtle, it might be the perfect place to lay her eggs. For a squirrel, it might be the only spot to cool off and get a drink when the sun is shining down in July. And for any child, it can be a window into the elegant, complex natural world right outside their window.

Publishers Weekly starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: rain, puddles, weather, habitats, water, animals, nature, observing wildlife
  • Protagonist description: young girl, white

Emile and the Field by Kevin Young (Author) and Chioma Ebinama (Illustrator)

Emile loves the field close to his home–in spring, summer, and fall, when it gives him bees and flowers, blossoms and leaves. But not as much in winter, when he has to share his beautiful, changeable field with other children…and their sleds.

This relatable and lyrical ode to one boy’s love for his neighborhood field celebrates how spending time in nature allows children to dream, to imagine…and even to share.

Horn Book starred.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: seasons, rhyming books, neighborhood, nature, outdoor play
  • Protagonist description: boy, Black; all characters are Black except for one white child in the background

Climb On! by Baptiste Paul (Author) and Jacqueline Alcántara (Illustrator)

When a young child reminds her dad about the hike they planned, her father is hesitant–To the tippy top? It’s a great day to watch futbol (soccer). But as the two climb on, her enthusiasm is contagious.

Filled with setbacks, surprises, and stunning views, this warm and humorous story highlights in vivid colors the bonding power of a shared experience. A list of creatures at the end prompts a second look for keen-eyed readers to make discoveries of their own.

Baptiste Paul and Jacqueline Alcántara (co-creators of The Field) have teamed up again! Baptiste’s humorous and tender text, with a sprinkling of Creole words straight from the Pitons, and Jacqueline Alcántara’s vibrant and evocative illustrations capture the wonder and emotions experienced on the trail and the special relationship between a parent and a child.

  • Genre(s): picture book
  • Recommended for: PreS-Grade 3
  • Themes: hiking, climbing, perseverance, nature, Creole, fathers and daughters
  • Protagonist description: girl and her father, both brown-skinned



The New Release Spotlight began in May 2016 as a way to help librarians keep up with the many new children’s and YA books that are released each week. Every Tuesday, school librarian Leigh Collazo compiles the New Release Spotlight using a combination of Follett’s Titlewave, Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble. As always, titles with a * by them received two or more starred professional reviews. Recommended grade levels represent the range of grade levels recommended by professional book reviewers.



Best YA Books of March 2022

Best Middle Grade Books of March 2022

See all my New Release Spotlights for the past year

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